News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

June 2, 2014

The waste land

EPA set to begin nearly $1M removal of 3,500 tons of contaminated soil at Sugar Creek brownfield site

TERRE HAUTE — Contractors for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this week are starting a cleanup of lead-contaminated soil on land that will house a floatable control structure for the city’s stormwater/sewer system.

Jason Sewell, on-scene coordinator for EPA’s Superfund Division, Emergency Response Branch, said Monday that work will include removing up to 3,500 tons of contaminated soil. “That is equivalent to removing soil on one acre to a depth of two feet,” Sewell said.

The federal project is funded up to $951,390, he said.

The work, depending on what level of contamination is found, will take at least three to four weeks to complete, but could go longer.

“We will know more as we go” on how much soil needs to be removed, he said. “We know from some of our preliminary assessment in some places it is relatively shallow — 2 feet or less.”

Heavy equipment, such as an excavator, was moved onto the site Monday.

The city of Terre Haute was given 39 acres of land by Sugar Creek Scrap, a West Terre Haute-based business, on which a floatable control structure will be placed. However, the cleanup work will concentrate on an area between what would be an extension of Hulman and Idaho streets to the Wabash River.

A floatable control structure is used to capture floating materials, such as plastic bottles, that find their way into the city’s combined stormwater/sewer system.

Contaminated soil will be hauled to an approved off-site disposal facility, “and that has yet to be determined. We have to discover whether it has to go to a hazardous waste landfill or non-hazardous waste landfill,” Sewell said. The contractor for the project will then bid out the disposal to get the best price, he said.

Lata Kemron Remediation LLC will perform the cleanup work, while Oneida Total Integrated Enterprises will provide technical assistance.

The U.S. EPA has rented space on the north side of Prairieton Road,  across from the cleanup site, southwest of 1901 Prairieton Ave., and will set up a field office. “We will have yard signs out on Prairieton Road that will direct you to the office,” Sewell said. “It will be around and to the back of Ruan Transport.”

“During regular business hours while we are working here, it will be an open government office for people to come and go,” Sewell said.

In addition to soil, a large metal tank near a pond, estimated to hold 10,000 gallons, will be tested, along with several drums. If contaminants are found, the tank and drums will be removed. If not, removal will fall to the Terre Haute Sanitary District for cleanup, Sewell said.

 City Planner Pat Martin, who is part of the city’s engineering department, said soil sampling was done two weeks ago on a “100-by-100-foot grid, and areas of excessively high levels of lead were found. By having the grid, we can identify areas of concentration, and those will be the areas targeted first.”

Air monitors have also been installed, Martin said, to provide a baseline for air quality before the project. “The EPA is also doing an exploratory trench for us, which goes down to ground water level. They are doing this in the location where we will place our floatable control structure, so we will get an idea of whether we are placing the structure on contaminated soil. If it is contaminated, it will have to be removed,” Martin said.

The city’s sanitary district will clear brush and remove old cars or metal containers, which can be sold as scrap to offset cost of the cleanup.

The area also contains medical waste, such as glass vials and medical bottles, likely from the former St. Ann’s Hospital, Martin said. “There’s also literally thousands and thousands of old tires,” all of which will be the sanitary district’s responsibility to remediate as part of the project.

In addition, soil samples will be taken where a pedestrian trail is to be placed near the river. The trail will run from Fairbanks Park to the former International Paper property, which is planned to be converted into a recreation area in the next 10 years, Martin said.

Reporter Howard Greninger can be reached at 812-231-4204 or howard.greninger@tribstar.com.

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